In a bizarre turn of events, the latest sport to be accepted by the Olympic Committee is competitive travel packing. For years now, the sport’s biggest competitors have been meeting up all over the Internet to compare notes, and show that they’re the best at putting clothing into backpacks.
The rules for this new, strange sport are simple: the lower your bag’s weight, the higher your score. Points are deducted for including cotton clothing and a laptop in your packing list. Only an amateur traveler makes such incompetent mistakes.
In order to compete in the next games, you must leave at least twenty condescending comments on travel blogs claiming that you know how to pack a bag better than anybody else on the planet.
At this year’s Travel Packing Championships, John Packington managed to successfully defeat all opponents by surviving in Thailand for 4 weeks with nothing, but a toothpick and a packet of extra strong mints. On his victory he had this to say, “I had a great time in Thailand. There were a few days where my toothpick looked like it would break, but I managed to keep it together til the end.”
Packington, who works as a part-time supermarket bag boy, says he practices packing his backpack for 3 hours each day in order to gain an upper hand on the competition. He also eats nothing but ice cream and doughnuts for months before travel. “I build up my fat reserves, so that when I go away I don’t need to carry around food. I stole that idea from Robert Stowaway.”
Robert Stowaway – named the Father of Packing – was an early pioneer of traveling light. Legend has it that late one night, in the middle of a 5 hour binge of the video game Tetris he was hit with an epiphany. What if he packed his bag like the columns and rows of Tetris? Soon he created a set of rules that would allow him to travel efficiently. The Stowaway Rules were born, revolutisioning travel for thousands of know-it-alls everywhere.
When I asked Packington how he felt about Stowaway, he looked off into the distance with a smile. “That man was a legend. Before he came along everybody took a suitcase on their holidays. A suitcase! Can you believe it? He was the first one to say, ‘Why don’t we wear a bag on our backs while in a foreign country?’ Everybody in the travel packing community has a deep amount of respect for him.”
In the years since Stowaway introduced his Rules, his style of travel has constantly been improved upon. Packington explains, “You see, he always had a rule that you should take a minimum of 4 cotton t-shirts with you when traveling. Then one day somebody made an amazing suggestion. Why not 3 t-shirts? Wouldn’t that be even more comfortable?”
The community was amazed by this new idea and over time packing has continued to evolve in efficiency. Some of the more hardcore members have started to question why you need to even take any t-shirts when traveling. Packington revealed to me that he once spent two weeks in Vietnam almost completely nude except for his underpants. When I questioned whether this was possibly a little uncomfortable, he looked at me as though I were a madman. “The most uncomfortable thing in the world is carrying a heavy backpack, it’s impossible to enjoy a place when you can feel a bag on your back.”
When I revealed to Packington that on my last trip abroad I took 7 pairs of cotton underwear, he looked like he was going to vomit. “Cotton? Don’t you know how abrasive that is?! It’s not efficient at wicking away moisture from your body. You should have bought some CoolMax sports underwear! Also, why did you carry 7 pairs? You could have carried one and washed them every day in your sink!”
For competitive bag packers, it seems there’s never a moment when they aren’t competing. When I questioned Packington’s methods and how they’re possibly not very comfortable for the average human being, he laughed. “Well, I suppose that’s because they’re amateurs. When you’re a professional you understand that the only comfort you get from traveling is by having a light bag. If your bag is too heavy the food doesn’t taste as good and the attractions aren’t as beautiful! Everybody knows that!”
In the next year, Packington plans to spend 2 months in Peru eating nothing but grubs and grass to save money. He has challenged himself to go the whole trip without taking a shower, and he’s positive that he’ll continue to retain his title as the Champion of Packing.